Arts Desk

What is the Proper Etiquette for a Book Burning?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, N.C., held an old-fashioned book burning last week (above is an AP video on the same).

Now, my people didn't burn books when I was growing up, but my youth pastor did ask me to toss my copy of Pyromania, and my grandfather, an Episcopal priest, refused to allow books written by Carl Jung inside his house. Also, I once had to scribble an ode to masturbation on a slip of paper during mass and throw it into a cauldron of fire.

Based on these criteria, I feel qualified to offer the following FAQ for attending a book burning.

Is it OK to swing by the grocery store on my way to the burning and just buy a new book? Or should I bring something from home?

Serious book burning is as much about purging one's soul of evil influence as purging America's retail shelves of the same. That said, only bring a book from home if you're sure that fellow congregates have read it, or skimmed the dust jacket in a moment of doubt. A book burning is a family event, not a chance for you to strut your perversions.

If the only irreligious book you have at home is Madonna's Sex, leave it there and pick up the new Dan Brown book on your way to the burning. Otherwise, your pastor will think you are making a mockery of the entire thing.

I have a lot of dog books at home, and not much else. Should I burn my dog books?

Novels about people who form emotional connections with their dogs are fucking disgusting, and the Lord will not abide. Where the Red Fern Grows? Go ahead and roast the copy you read to your kids. Your fellow burners have probably read these books too, and as such, are just as on the fence about it as you are. Remember: It's one thing to use a dog for sexual pleasure, it's an entirely different and unholy thing to write a book about it. Same goes for Shiloh, My Dog Skip, and–my personal favorite–the Lad series. Burn them all.

I really want to bring my friends to a book burning, but I'm worried that they'll think I'm crazy. What should I do?

Ask your friends if they have ever touched a hot stove, perhaps a cookie sheet fresh out of the oven, or a warm drill bit. If they say yes, ask them if they can imagine what it would be like to feel that pain for an eternity. Then tell them about the book burning and its importance to you. Remind them that good friends should be GGG–good, giving, and God-fearing.

And remember: You are crazy–crazy for the eternal truth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Setting things on fire arouses me. Should I feel bad about enjoying a book burning in a way that my fellow congregates would likely disapprove of if they knew?

Yes.

Some people in my congregation have suggested that we simply burn a Barnes and Noble bookstore to the ground. What do you think of this idea?

That is a foolish idea. It would be much wiser to find the warehouse from which Barnes and Noble ships its stock of Dan Brown books and light that place on fire.

I am functionally illiterate. Can I bring a DVD or VHS instead?

Yes, so long as it does not star Charlton Heston or Kirk Cameron.

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